Opinion: The Panthers Cannot Forget About Knight

During the regular season, the Florida Panthers goaltending is usually a mixed bag.

The starter, Sergei Bobrovsky, is usually someone who is inconsistent. He will have games where he plays lights out and other games where you will wonder why the franchise is paying him so much money to be their starting goaltender.

Their backups, ranging from guys like Spencer Knight and Alex Lyons, do what they can to get the job done, but like Bobrovsky, 35, their play between the pipes varies. Lyons got the Panthers into the playoffs last season with his terrific play down the stretch while Knight was in the NHL/NHLPA  Players Assistance Program.

While the season is young, and the Panthers have played just three games this season, Bobrovsky’s play has already been uneven. As of this writing (Wednesday, October 18th), he is 1-2 with a 3.42 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage.

Anthony Stolarz is currently backing up Bobrovsky while Knight, 22, is down in the American Hockey League (AHL) playing with Charlotte Checkers. While Stolarz is a serviceable backup, it is imperative that the Panthers get Knight back up to the big club in the near future.

For starters, Knight is still considered to be the franchise’s goaltender of the future. He is still young, and his ceiling is very high as this is a goaltender who is rarely out of position, makes first and second saves, and is someone that the team can hopefully rely on to be their guy in the future.

Secondly, while playing in the AHL for a bit is certainly the smart and right thing to do in order for Knight to get his game in order before he returns to the NHL, this team needs him playing with the big club behind Bobrovsky. As mentioned above, Bobrovsky is not the most consistent goaltender in the regular season, and with the team playing in the very competitive Atlantic Division, they need all the help they can get when it comes to winning hockey games.

Knight can be a key part of that solution. With him completing the Players Assistance Program and being so open about his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) with The Hockey News just over a month ago, it appears that Knight is in a great state, mentally, and he even played well in his first game down in the AHL despite losing 4-2 to Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins.

In that game, Knight stopped 25 of 27 shots. He actually stopped the first 18 shots he faced before the Penguins scored two early goals to open the third period.

Lastly, Knight belongs in the NHL. Yes, the AHL is a wonderful place for him to play and get his confidence up, but he is an NHL-caliber goaltender.

With all of this said, however, it appears that the team will not be rushing to get him back. In an interview with Colton Davies of DailyFaceoff.com, Panthers writer George Richards of Florida Hockey Now said that the goal is for Knight to get playing time, which is exactly what he will be doing down in Charlotte.

“He understands this is an opportunity to get more playing time. Like you said, the writing was on the wall, and this was the plan from July 1. The Panthers targeted Stolarz; they wanted a good NHL backup goalie, they wanted to solidify their three-goalie position, and they feel like they’ve done so. Now that allows Knight to go do what he needs to do.”

While playing in the AHL is right for Knight at the moment, the Panthers cannot afford to forget about him if they want to make the playoffs this season.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
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Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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